Renewable EnergySectors

Information, resources and training opportunities as new "green" jobs are created and current jobs go green

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The Utility Workers Union of America is working with environmentalists, employers and others to transition to a clean energy economy. As the UWUA moves forward in this effort, many new “green” jobs will be created and current jobs will go green. In an effort to keep our membership aware of the new emerging green jobs – the UWUA will provide information, resources and training opportunities within the renewable industry including wind, weatherization, biofuel, geothermal, solar and other renewables.

The Utility Workers Union of America is working with environmentalists, employers and others to transition to a clean energy economy. As the UWUA moves forward in this effort, many new “green” jobs will be created and current jobs will go green.

Acting Now to Create a Cleaner Environment and Quality Jobs

The economic crisis we confront today demands that we act now to defend middle class jobs and revive the American Dream for our nation’s working families. Unleashing domestic energy sources, rebuilding our infrastructure, protecting good jobs and creating green employment opportunities are at the core of the solutions to the crisis. For utility workers, this offers great opportunities as the decisions that are made in these areas affect us directly.

We need not choose between environmental devastation and good domestic jobs; a robust energy sector and consumer protections; or safeguards for current workers and a well-trained, diverse workforce of the future. Indeed, it is imperative that all of these be included in energy policy and job creating stimulus programs that address the crises we face.

We need not choose between environmental devastation and good domestic jobs; a robust energy sector and consumer protections; or safeguards for current workers and a well-trained, diverse workforce of the future.

The Utility Workers Union of America advocates for:

  • Rebuilding our infrastructure to reverse the damage done by years of neglect by the market driven, deregulated industry. We must modernize our electric, gas and water systems to create better efficiencies and promote conservation.
  • Training and retooling our workforce to operate and maintain the utilities of the future. This is not just about acquiring new skills; training must be tailored to meet the needs of full-time workers who will be enhancing their skills throughout their careers. Due to the large number of retirements expected over the next five years, utilities are one of the few sectors with projected job growth. We must make sure that utility jobs allow workers to earn a decent living. And we must encourage greater recruitment, training and employment of women and minorities.
  • Maximizing existing technologies to increase efficiencies and reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants while investing in carbon neutral nuclear power.
  • Developing promising technologies, such as carbon capture and sequestration, wind, solar, biofuels and other renewable energy sources to jumpstart the next generation of power plants.
  • Adopting government regulations that secure our future by protecting consumers, encouraging energy conservation, rewarding the use of sustainable energy sources and requiring investment in the workforce and infrastructure. Years of failed experimentation with deregulation in the energy sector have left our country weak, vulnerable, and unprepared for the future.

The Utility Workers Union of America continues to be in the forefront of the fight for a secure energy future that protects consumers, respects workers’ rights and creates good paying domestic jobs. We are the safest, most productive, highest skilled workers in the world.

The Utility Workers Union of America continues to be in the forefront of the fight for a secure energy future that protects consumers, respects workers’ rights and creates good paying domestic jobs. We are the safest, most productive, highest skilled workers in the world.

Jobs and the Environment

The UWUA is actively involved in two coalitions concerned with green jobs and working for the environment: Unions for Jobs and Environmental Progress (UJEP) and BlueGreen Alliance. UJEP is an independent association of national and international labor unions that represents more than 3.2 million workers in electric power, rail transportation, coal mining, construction and other energy related industries.

Our action within UJEP has included, but is not limited to, high level meetings with the U.S. EPA, Department of Education, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and Office of Management and Budget, to name a few. These meetings and input have more recently taken up the proposed Clean Power Plan, Ozone Standards, and other environmental legislation. We promote the development and commercial usage of Carbon Capture Sequestration in response to the Clean Power Plan.

The UWUA is actively involved in two coalitions concerned with green jobs and working for the environment: Unions for Jobs and Environmental Progress (UJEP) and BlueGreen Alliance.

The UWUA joined the BlueGreen Alliance (BGA) in 2009. Established in 2006 by the United Steelworkers Union and the Sierra Club, the BGA is now a national partnership of ten labor unions and five environmental organizations representing some 14 million people. BGA designs public policy, advocates for practical solutions, and facilitates dialogue between environmentalists, union members, and others. UWUA has appeared at a number of venues and panels with BGA partners, providing commentary on environmental policy, as it affects displaced workers and impacted communities.

The BGA works to expand the number and quality of jobs in the green economy. It advocates for workers’ rights around issues such as the right to join a union, and health and safety. BGA speaks out to change unfair trade agreements by adding binding labor and environmental standards.

BGA also works to improve public health by reducing toxins in the workplaces and communities. The Alliance’s core belief is that workers should not be forced to choose between either decent jobs or a clean environment — both can and must be accomplished. Economic disparity and environmental degradation are two heads of the same coin. Since 2011, the UWUA, working with the BGA and its partner organizations, has taken on these efforts:

  • Developing policies for market drivers, financing and research and development of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies for large scale utility and manufacturing application as a part of a way to ensure longevity for fossil fuel power plants while addressing climate impacting emissions.
  • Testifying at congressional briefings in support of a National Infrastructure Bank Bill to finance large infrastructure projects on a national and state level by leveraging public and private financing to put Americans back to work, grow decent jobs, improve the economy, and eliminate waste and inefficiency that contribute to environmental damage.
  • In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the continuing drought conditions of the American west, calling for building more resilient communities to withstand and recover from the increasing number and effects of severe weather and a changing climate, by focusing policies on Smart Investments, Modern Infrastructure, Healthy Environments, and Education and Collaboration.
  • Advocating for improving the current spent nuclear fuel management policy by thinning out over-crowded cooling pools and ramping up more dry cask storage at the nation’s nuclear power plants.
  • Working to stop “Fast Track” Agreements of free trade, specifically the fast-tracking of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), which represents 38% of the total world economic activity. Fast Track authority by the Administration does not provide full disclosure or debate on the details of a free-trade agreement. The UWUA and the BGA partners have called for a “Fair Trade” agreement instead of a “Free Trade” agreement, to improve everyone’s quality of life and raise standards protecting workers, consumers, democratic processes and the environment.
  • Repair America is the effort of the UWUA, the BGA and its partner organizations to fix our aging water and wastewater systems, electrical grid, natural gas distribution system, transit systems, communication systems and roads and bridges. America’s infrastructure — the systems we rely on every day for transportation, clean water, energy, and to communicate with each other — earned a “D+” from the American Society of Civil Engineers. The goal is to get Americans working together again to build this backbone of systems we rely on every day.
  • The UWUA, along with the BlueGreen Alliance and the AFLCIO, launched Repairing Our Cities’ Aging Pipelines (RECAP), an effort to bring together the business, labor and environmental communities to modernize our natural gas pipeline network and accelerate current efforts to repair America’s natural gas distribution pipelines. Tripling the current rate of repair could create more than 200,000 new jobs in a decade, while reducing methane emissions, which have a much more rapid climate change impact than carbon dioxide.

The UWUA calls for the establishment of a Clean Energy Transition Fund on a national scale to ensure that workers displaced from closing power plants and affected fossil fuel extraction sites receive transition support, including wages, benefits and retraining; expand existing economic development programs to enable communities to respond to power plant closings or downscaling; and support climate resilient infrastructure projects in communities where plants are closing.

The UWUA calls for the establishment of a Clean Energy Transition Fund on a national scale to ensure that workers displaced from closing power plants and affected fossil fuel extraction sites receive transition support

The BGA and its alliance organizations have stood up for UWUA members by protesting the closure of two power plants, (Mitchell and Hatsfield Ferry Stations) and the lockout of Local 180 members by FirstEnergy.

In 2014, the UWUA and the BGA supported Congressmen Peter Welch (D-VT) and David McKinley (R-WV) for their work on the Healthy Employee Loss Prevention Act. Training programs need to lead to quality employment, matching or exceeding the well paid jobs that have been lost. Pensions and benefits of displaced workers must be ensured.

The UWUA has provided independent legislative action, testifying on critical state and national issues, including Clean Power Plan comments in Washington, DC, and other listening tour cities. We also continue to monitor and provide input to FERC, RTOs, and other venues. The UWUA focuses on our members, families, and communities, and constantly advocates for safe, reliable, affordable services.